11.30.04

Davis Gone In Cleveland

Posted in Gridiron at 10:00 am by

Whether Butch Davis has jumped or was pushed, we’ll not know for a while. What does seem curious is the Browns’ decision to let the players pick their interim coach. After having 58 points hung on them by the Bengals, perhaps they’ll not want to select defensive coordinator Dave Campo?

The Best Team In L.A. ..

Posted in Basketball at 12:33 am by

…is the one whose celeb fans include Billy Crystal and….uh, Arsenio Hall.

null

I’m talking, of course, about the emerging Clippers, who at 9-6 are off to their best start in 20 years. Elton Brand (above) torched the Cavs for 30 points and Chris Wilcox and Bobby Simmons combined for 22 rebounds en route to Los Angeles’ 94-82 victory.

11.29.04

Unwatchable Mime-Fest Relegated

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 11:45 pm by

From Tuesday’s Financial Times :

Top of the Pops, the pop music programme, has been axed from BBC1 after 41 years on the main television channel. The move follows the programme’s struggle with declining interest in the singles charts and comes a year after a high profile relaunch. From next spring, the show will be broadcast on BBC2 on Sunday evenings, forging closer links with BBC Radio 1′s Chart Show. It will have a new format, featuring music archives already exploited by TOTP2, the show’s spin-off on BBC2.


(sickening no-talents prepare to prance and pout for even fewer eyeballs)

Mets Outbidding Sox For Pedro?

Posted in Baseball at 11:31 pm by

The NY Times’ Lee Jenkins reports in tomorrow’s paper that the New York Mets have made a serious financial proposition to free agent P Pedro Martinez.

The Mets have submitted a contract proposal to Pedro Martínez that is more lucrative than the one offered by the Boston Red Sox, according to a major league executive with knowledge of the discussions.

In making a run at Martínez, the Mets are among the first teams to put their cash on the table for a premium player. The Red Sox have offered Martínez a two-year guaranteed contract worth $25.5 million with an easily attainable third-year option. The Mets countered late Sunday with a three-year guaranteed contract worth approximately $38 million with a vesting option for a fourth year. Neither the Mets nor Martínez’s agent Fernando Cuza would confirm or deny the offer.

With the offer, the Mets have conveyed that they are serious about signing Martínez and want to make an impact in the 2005 season. Although there is obvious skepticism as to why Martínez would leave a World Series champion to play for the Mets, who barely avoided finishing in last place for the third year in a row, there are also indications that he is considering the idea. Martínez has previously had success in the National League, coming up with the Los Angeles Dodgers and establishing himself in Montreal, where he won the first of his three Cy Young awards.

The Red Sox indicated that they would not change their initial offer to Martínez until they knew there was competition. Now, the 33-year-old Martínez has something to take back to Boston, whether the Mets are just a bargaining chip or a legitimate destination.

Nelson To Sit, Johnson To Coach

Posted in Basketball at 6:10 pm by

Finally, an heir apparent from Nellie’s staff of some 16,000 assistant coaches. From the Associated Press :

Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson will step aside for Tuesday night’s game against San Antonio and let his top assistant Avery Johnson (above) run the team.

Nelson will still be on the bench against the Spurs, but will leave it to Johnson to make decisions.

“I’ll give him my opinion and he’ll have to make the call,” Nelson said. “Just like when he gives me his opinion, I reject some of them, he can reject mine.”

Milton Bradley Lights Up The Offseason

Posted in Baseball at 5:12 pm by

Faced with Ron Artest dominating the news for much of the autumn, the hyper-competitive Milton Bradley has responded like a true gamer — challenging a traffic cop who had stopped another motorist to arrest him.

The Red Sox beating Pat Tillman for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman Of The Year award, I can accept, but Bradley oughta demand a recount.

Seriously, folks, when I saw the headline reading “Bradley Held In Traffic Dispute”, I was praying the cops had violated Shawn Bradley’s civil rights.

Boggs On The Hall Of Fame Ballot

Posted in Baseball at 2:39 pm by

Along with Darryl Strawberry, Ryne Sandberg, Willie McGee, Chilli Davis, Tony Phillips, Jack McDowell and Jim Abbott.

Sadly, Margo Adams does not get a vote.

Sirius To Air NCAA Hoops Tournament

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Sports Radio at 2:25 pm by

The AP is reporting that satellite radio co. Sirius has signed a 3 year deal with the NCAA to broadcast the Men’s Basketball Tournament. While this is great news for those that love having too many devices in their car, the real March Madness will ensue when you try to figure out how to have Sirius and XM Radio installed in the same vehicle. As of this moment, Sirius has college hoops, the NFL and in 2006, Howard Stern. XM will feature MLB programming starting next spring. I’ve not opted for one of these services as I’m waiting for either (or both) to sign a pledge that they’ll not employ Scott Ferrell.

Jeff V.G., Yao & T-Mac

Posted in Basketball at 1:58 pm by

The Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith thinks he knows what the Houston Rockets’ problem is, and he’s not talking about the upcoming Calvin Murphy trial.

There are just two words to explain what’s wrong with the 6-9 Houston Rockets: Jeff Van Gundy. Or is that three words?

This is not to say Van Gundy is a bad coach. He’s just the wrong coach for the Rockets.

We see it more in college than in pro ball, but this is a classic case of a coach demanding his players adjust to him rather than him adjusting to them. And this is not one of those disciplinary, make-them-work, good-for-the-coach, teach-the-bums values things. The Rockets have a good group of players, by most accounts serious-minded and committed.

They’re playing a slow game, mostly walking the ball up and running a half-court offense. It was a good tactic for Van Gundy with a team like his aging New York Knicks, a slower, possession game that can keep a less talented team in the game and steal some wins.

Now he has young talent in YaoMing and Tracy McGrady, although Houston, to be fair, doesn’t have that much overall talent after giving away three starters to get McGrady.

But the Rockets need to run, or at least play more in transition. Defenses are setting up against them, turning them perimeter-oriented, thus limiting McGrady to jump shots and surrounding Yao and making him work too hard for baskets. It has tired him, and he has had trouble finishing games.

The Rockets’ statistics reflect their style, not their talent. They are 29th in scoring, 28th in rebounding, 27th in steals and 23rd in blocks even with Yao (above). Their field-goal attempts are 26th most, and they are 29th in free throws, showing a lack of penetration to the basket.

McGrady, the league’s leading scorer the last two seasons with a combined average of more than 30 points per game, has had only two games this season over 25 points. Yao, averaging 17.8, has been in single digits five times this season, twice in the last two games against teams without dominating centers.

“My game right now, I’m hesitant on the offensive end and I can’t get into a rhythm,” McGrady said after Saturday’s loss to the Jazz. “I really don’t feel in sync on the court. I can’t get into the flow at all. I don’t know what it is.”

I do. McGrady needs to get easy baskets in transition to open up his perimeter game. Of course, better rebounding would help. Yao is one of the league’s best running centers, but he’s walking into the defense too much.

“Neither of those guys has played like we need them to play to win down the stretch,” Van Gundy said last week.

The style Van Gundy favors wears out players. The Rockets aren’t great, but they have too much talent to allow lesser teams to stay in the game with limited possessions.

SkyDome Sale Almost Complete

Posted in Baseball at 1:05 pm by

From The Star’s Dave Perkins, link courtesy of Jon Solomon :

The Blue Jays finally will own their own ball yard, possibly as soon as today.

The long-awaited sale of the SkyDome to Rogers Communications was in the final stages of being negotiated on the weekend, including last night. It should be formally completed and announced this week and possibly today, according to multiple sources.

The stadium was state of the art when it opened, mostly at taxpayer expense, in 1989 with a final cost of more than $600 million (all figures Canadian). Rogers will buy it from U.S.-based Sportsco International LP (limited partners) for something approaching $30 million.

Due diligence had been taking place over the past several weeks, since Sportsco, which bought the stadium out of bankruptcy proceedings six years ago, began to feel a financial crunch and became more agreeable to selling. The death this past summer of Alan Cohen, one of the principals in Sportsco who lived in Florida, also played a factor.

This deal has been rumoured before as being imminent. This time, apparently, they’ve either tied the knot or are at least at the altar.

So let the speculation begin about the future. The Jays, with the SkyDome as part of the package to maximize value, will become more attractive to a buyer should anyone wish to come up with the cash to take the money-losing team off Ted Rogers’ hands. He has owned the club for five years, losing large but decreasing amounts on baseball operations, yet still gaining the all-important television programming ” Canadian content, too ” so vital to his media empire.

If ownership of the SkyDome can make the Jays a profitable venture, Rogers may wish to maintain his ownership position. He has said he intends to stay with the Blue Jays for the long haul, although executives within his own company suggest it should get out of the baseball business. The constant financial squeeze on team payroll has led to frustration being openly voiced by general manager J.P. Ricciardi, but it remains to be seen how the synergy of team and stadium will change the dynamic of spending.

There have been reports, most reasonably well founded, that Ted Rogers intends to rename the building the Rogers SkyDome. It has lacked a corporate name since it opened, but expect that to change once the deal does down. Which should be any time now.